Since its initial release a month ago, Ben & Jerry's most recent limited-batch flavor, Cannoli, has been slowly infiltrating the freezer sections of grocery stores across America. According to Vermont's finest, this newest offering would only be available after vendors had sold out of Key Lime Pie, their previous limited edition. After walking out of local supermarkets disappointed for the past few weeks, I was finally able to procure a pint at a nearby Publix, which I quickly added to Ben & Jerry's #FindCannoli Twitter initiative set up to help customer's track down a nearby supply.
Modeled after the classic Sicilian pastry, Ben & Jerry's has made their Cannoli flavor by taking mascarpone ice cream and adding in fudge covered cannoli pastry shell chunks, as well as an additional mascarpone swirl. But this isn't their first attempt at an ice cream revolving around shells of fried dough. Back in 1997, Ben & Jerry's released a similar concoction called Holy Cannoli which the Flavor Graveyard refers to as, "A rich recipe of vanilla pistachio ice cream with pistachios, sweet ricotta, and cannoli pieces in cocoa. Our elegant flavor from old Italia had a few fans, but they were hardly a mob so we gave it the lob." Cashing in their mixture of pistachio and ricotta for mascarpone in this most recent version, the limited batch lid hides a light colored first layer with large pieces of chocolate covered cannoli poking through the top.
Containing 280 calories per serving, this entire container will set you back over half of the average person's allotted calories for an entire day. Summarized as a soft, high butterfat Italian cheese enriched with cream, I somewhat expect this mascarpone base to be similar to that of New Orleans Ice Cream Company's Creole Cream Cheese. After parting the thick ice cream with the end of my spoon, I pry out a large portion and have my first taste. The off-white base is much sweeter than I had anticipated. Bordering on the sweetness found in their Cake Batter flavor, this mascarpone ice cream takes the foundation of Volun-Tiramisu, removes the coffee component and replaces it with sugar.
For my unsatisfiable sweet tooth, this base acted as the ideal canvas to showcase the fudge covered cannoli pieces to come. Like many other similarly flavored bases and swirls, the matching mascarpone swirl gets a bit lost in all the ice cream. Although many times the swirl made its way into my mouth without my knowledge, a slightly intensified mascarpone flavor and slight textural difference were the only things it managed to bring to the equation. But the chocolate coated cannoli would be the deciding factor on how this flavor ultimately ended up.
These rigid, quarter-sized slivers of pastry shell are abundant from the first layer to the bottom, but the size and quantity are just the beginning. My first piece of cannoli is one of the more impressive mix-ins I've had the pleasure of interrogating. Taking me on a tour through texture, the rich, fudge outer coating gives way to a slightly crunchy center that eventually crumbles and flakes away, leaving a bit of chocolate behind to finish off each bite. By the time I've wrapped my head around the well-executed piece of pastry, another lands on my spoon. Followed by another. As usual, Ben & Jerry's doesn't shy away from packing their pints with fun fillings and this is no different. Much like the line made famous in The Godfather, put down what you're doing and take the cannoli.
Where I Found It: Publix Super Markets